Licha: from bricklayer to 'Butcher'
Lisandro Martinez has discussed his upbringing in Argentina during an exclusive interview with Inside United.
The Reds defender, who turned 25 last month, reflected on his route to becoming a World Cup winner in the official magazine and admits there was one moment, in particular, when he knew he had to pull out all the stops to make it as a footballer.
Some frank words by his father helped him realise that this was his destiny, as he set out on the path to the top of the game.
"[When I was] about 13, very young, my parents confronted me," he told Inside United. "My dad was working as a bricklayer at that time. He said that if I wasn’t going to play football, I wasn’t going to make anything of myself, that I should compare football to being a bricklayer.
"So he set that scene and, once my father took me with him. I remember that I had to be there at seven in the morning. And I overslept, imagine that!
"I got there for around 10.30am or 11am. When I arrived, my father just looked at me. I remember it like it was yesterday. He looked at me and said: ‘Do you realise that this isn’t for you? You need to have a career in football. Football is your thing.’
"And that’s when the penny dropped for me."
Martinez, nicknamed 'The Butcher' for his uncompromising style in defence, believes growing up in the Entre Rios region has helped shape his character.
"I think [the experiences influenced me] a lot," he accepted. "A great deal, because that means I never forget where I’ve come from. I also think that there’s something in me that I was born with, which is probably my mentality.
"I’d see things, as a kid, that maybe others didn’t. But life itself is tough, you’re always faced with tough times and that’s where you need to show your mental strength.
"It’s true I come from a family in which we didn’t have everything. Nothing ever fell from the skies. But my family have always supported me a lot, they’ve instilled many values which make me who I am today. And then you start improving as a person, you work on lots of things, you learn, you experience things.
"So I’m very proud of everything I’ve gone through and it’s that strength I have today."
You can read the full interview with our popular centre-back in the February edition of Inside United.